Essential success and life tips for the mom who is going back to school
Are you a mom who is thinking of going back to school? Do you need someone to hold your hand, encourage you, and share some essential tips to help you succeed in college?
When I made the decision to go back to school, I was a bit desperate, and to make matters worse, I didn’t know any mom who had gone back to college, so I had no one to hold my hand, offer advice, or encourage me.
After I graduated from college, I promised myself I’d share my experience with other moms who want to return to school and be a helpful resource for them. So here we are!
For many moms, going back to school feels like such a huge challenge and something beyond their reach. While I agree it’s no walk in the park, it’s certainly possible for moms to go back to school while taking care of their family at the same time.
So, for moms going back to school, here are some of my best success and life tips.
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1. ORGANIZE YOUR FINANCES
The reason I am starting with this one is that it’s pretty important. Going back to school as a mom is pretty stressful as it is, the last thing you want to do is to add financial stress to it.
Before you enroll in college, take the time to figure out how you are going to finance your education. For example, if you plan to pay out of pocket, make sure you have enough money saved to cover your tuition and other related expenses. If you plan to work while attending school, ensure you save part of your paycheck to cover your school expenses.
A budget is a good idea for moms going back to school. A budget will help you plan and manage your finances. With a budget, you can easily see how much you have, your expenses, and how much you can save for college.
How much you need to save depends on the number of courses or credits you plan to take each semester. There are other ways to finance college including financial aid, student loans, scholarships, and grants. Whichever method you choose, make sure you sort it out ahead of time.
And please be wary of student loans and other aids you have to pay back. Read the small print and never borrow more than you need.
After you organize your finances, you can now focus on your studies and other aspects of your life, without financial anxiety. When I went to college, things were very rough financially and it was one area that caused me a lot of stress.
So, make sure you plan your finances so you can avoid the kind of stress I went through. If you need help managing your finances, check out the following personal finance resources.
Monthly & Weekly Budget Planner Organizer
2. MOM GOING BACK TO SCHOOL: BE FULLY COMMITTED
To succeed in college and life, you have to be fully committed. How committed are you to graduating from college and earning a degree in a timely manner? Are you willing to sacrifice your time and energy to achieve your dream?
I know a few moms who decided to return to school but gave up because life was too hard. But, here’s the thing. Going back to school as a parent is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. However, the fact it’s difficult doesn’t mean you can’t do it or you shouldn’t do it.
Very few people succeed without working hard and making sacrifices. The same thing applies to raising a family while studying. So, if you really want to succeed in college and at parenting, you will have to be fully committed. Instead of thinking of how hard things are, focus on finding solutions to get ahead.
You need a strong commitment to the cause and an unwavering belief in yourself to be successful. So, ask yourself “am I truly committed?”
3. BECOME MORE PRODUCTIVE
One thing I learned as a student and mom is that, time is of the essence. Trust me, there will be lots of days when you feel like you have more tasks than hours to complete them, but the only way to get the important things done is to learn how to be productive.
You can be busy without being productive. Knowing what is important and what will make your life easier is what you should focus on. Learn how you work best, how you study best, the best time to study, and how to prioritize different tasks.
Finally, if possible, learn to delegate some tasks because trying to do everything yourself can lead to burnout.
Do you struggle with procrastination or being productive? The resources below might help.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity
4. MINIMIZE PROCRASTINATION
One of my favorite tips for moms going back to school is to stop procrastinating. I know this is easier said than done especially if you’re a chronic procrastinator.
I used to be a wait-until-the last-minute kinda girl, but that had to change when I went back to college. Waiting until the last minute to write a paper or complete an assignment meant I couldn’t do a very good job or achieve the kind of grade I would have loved.
Also, not completing an assignment on time ate into my sleep time because I had to stay up late into the night to complete it.
Life is already stressful enough as a mom going back to school, you don’t need to add sleep deprivation to your list of challenges. So, take it from me. Don’t wait until the last minute to get things done.
Make a note of when an assignment or a paper is due, then give yourself enough time to complete it. Don’t put off things you can do right away for later. Guard your time because it’s very precious.
Procrastination can cause you to fail, so you want to avoid it as much as possible.
5. NEVER LOSE FOCUS
Many moms return to school with the intention of earning a degree while caring for their families. Sadly, lots of moms end up quitting for one reason or the other.
It’s easy to lose focus when life comes at you fast or you hit a hurdle. While that’s understandable, and probably can’t be helped, it’s also true that the only way to succeed is to remain focused.
You are always going to have hurdles to jump over and challenges to deal with, all you can control is how you react to them. You have to remain determined and be tenacious against all odds.
Is it going to be easy? Heck, no! But, you will feel so good with yourself if you hang on. So, never lose your focus and don’t quit on yourself.
6. BE A PERSON WHO TAKES ACTION
Lots of moms go back to school with lofty ideas and goals. They know what they need to do to juggle parenting and college successfully. Some even go as far as creating a plan. They have everything mapped out. But, you know what separates the moms who succeed and those who fail? It’s action.
It doesn’t matter how much you know or how much you desire something, if you don’t take action, you will fail. So, whether it’s graduating with a high GPA, or spending enough time with your family while in school, the key is to take action.
So, be proactive. Don’t wait for something to happen before you take action. For example, if you are struggling academically, ask for help. Don’t wait until you fail out of college.
Dreams die without action.
7. BUILD POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Let me speak to my fellow single moms out there. I know how lonely being a single parent is, but it’s better to be alone than to surround yourself with toxic people.
I had some very good relationships when I was in school. Some of my classmates were very supportive and helped me in diverse ways. I am most grateful for those positive relationships that enabled me to achieve my dream.
Positive relationships build up. They encourage and motivate you to be the best version of yourself. So, it’s imperative for you to surround yourself with positive and supportive people. You want people that will affirm you and not tear you down.
Cultivating good relationships can help you succeed as a mom and college student. It takes time to build good relationships, so don’t rush things or settle for anything less than the best.
8. ALWAYS REMAIN POSITIVE
In a way, this is funny coming from me because I sure know how to be negative. I am very good at imagining the worst even though I know I am at my best when I am positive.
For many moms, going back to school is a big undertaking. Lots of moms become discouraged and overwhelmed by the whole process, but this is a big mistake. The only way to make this work is to maintain a positive mindset and a positive mental attitude.
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Also, you need to change how you see and approach problems. If you’re prone to negativity, find a way to train your mind so you can learn to focus on the positives in your life.
Something that’s helped me to become more positive is to think of all the good things in my life. Rather than focusing on my challenges, I embrace gratitude. A gratitude journal is a great way to develop the habit of being grateful.
Each day, think of a few things you’re thankful for. Write them out and keep them in your thoughts throughout the day. This works really well for me and helps me to maintain a positive attitude. I encourage you to try it!
9. BE WILLING TO WORK HARD AND PERSEVERE
It doesn’t matter how much you desire something, unless you are willing to work hard to achieve your dream, chances are, you will fail.
One of the first lessons I learned as a single mom in college was the importance of working hard. The only reason I made it through college, was because I worked hard and persevered in the face of adversity.
While your personal circumstances might be better than mine was, rest assured, you will still need to work hard to graduate from college without totally ignoring your family!
So, prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally to jump through hoops. True success only comes from hard work. Remember that as a mom going back to school while raising a family.
10. PRACTICE DISCIPLINE
For a mom going back to school, one of the biggest challenges you will face is getting back into the swing of things, especially if you’ve been out of school for a long time.
If you have been a stay at home mom for a long time, you will have to learn to adapt, change your routines, and live with a different schedule. While this isn’t the hardest thing about going back to school as a mom, it is certainly up there.
You will need to practice discipline to be able to handle parenting and college at the same time. Juggling all the different aspects of your life successfully requires discipline. Everything from when you wake up, how often to study, when to take a break, and when to be fully present with your family, will need to be planned and given adequate attention.
While some moms are more self-disciplined than others, this is certainly a skill that anyone can learn, if they so desire. So, don’t be put off because you think you aren’t disciplined enough, you can certainly learn self-discipline.
11. ALWAYS TAKE TIME TO RELAX AND RECHARGE
Going back to school for moms requires something of a “full steam ahead” approach. While it’s a good thing to hit the ground running, don’t forget to take the time to relax and recharge, as often as you can.
Everyone needs downtime no matter how strong you think you are. Don’t even attempt to play super mom since this is often a recipe for disaster. Yes, you will need to wear a lot of hats and take care of lots of different things, but your health and wellbeing are just as important.
So, no matter what you do, don’t ignore this very important aspect of your life.
12. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO
One of the easiest ways to fail as a mom going back to school is to try to do everything or please everyone all the time. Learning how to say no will make a difference in your life and mental health.
I quickly learned as a single mom in school that I couldn’t agree to every request or commit to too many projects. If you’re the type of person who says yes easily or overcommits herself, you may have a hard time saying no, but believe me, when I say, it’s for your own good.
Whether it’s joining a study group with other moms or students, signing up to volunteer in church, or your local charity, saying yes to everything is a formula for failure. Never try to please everyone to your own detriment.
Guard your time jealously. Pick a few activities you can actually manage and have time for, and let everything else go, until you have more time for them.
13. LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES
There are lots of great tips for moms going back to school, however, learning from your mistakes is one of the best tips anyone can give you.
Going back to school after you have been away for a while is like venturing out of your comfort zone, which means, you are probably going to make a lot of mistakes as a mom and student. However, making mistakes shouldn’t be the end of your dream as long as you learn from them.
You may make some mistakes like enrolling in the wrong course, taking too many credits in a semester, choosing the wrong babysitter or child care center, or choosing the wrong degree. Whenever you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, reflect and analyze where you went wrong, course correct, then pick yourself up.
I made a few mistakes when I went back to school but I didn’t let them derail me. I picked myself up and continued to work towards my dream. Never focus on perfection, but making progress each and every day.
14. AVOID THE COMPARISON TRAP
Oh boy! I could say a lot about this, but I am going to try to restrain myself. If you’re living in less than ideal circumstances, please for the love of God, avoid the comparison trap.
Stop comparing your life to other people’s or wishing you had what they did. This serves no useful purpose other than to distract and make you miserable. I say this particularly to single moms because I know how hard life can be when you’re the primary breadwinner and living on one income.
You have to ignore what other people are doing and just focus on yourself. Some moms are going to look put together and like they have everything under control, but you know what? That may just be an illusion.
Whether it’s an illusion or not, it doesn’t matter. Be happy for them, but don’t ever compare yourself with them or start doing things or making decisions, so you can be like them. Focus on your own goals and priorities, and ignore what others are doing.
15. CHOOSE FUNCTION OVER STYLE
First, let me say there’s nothing wrong with being stylish if that’s your thing and you can afford it. I am not advocating for you to look frumpy because you went back to school. I just think it’s smart to focus on comfort and convenience.
I kept my hair short when I went back to school because I didn’t have the time or resources to spend on my hair. My clothes were more functional than stylish. I wore mostly jeans and sneakers to school and carried a backpack because they were comfortable and convenient.
Choosing function over style made my life easier and more manageable financially. So, think about this when you’re making purchasing decisions. Whether it’s clothes, car, housing, school supplies, accessories or whatever, make sure they are practical, durable, and functional!
This tip is something you can apply to your life whether you’re a student mom or not.
Final thoughts on 15 important success and life tips for the mom going back to school
Moms return to school for different reasons. Whatever the reason is, one thing that’s true for all moms is that they want to succeed. Moms want to do well in school while being a great mom to their kids.
The tips in this post are some of the things I did that really helped me to thrive in school and life in general. So, I hope they will also help you to succeed as a student and mom.
Are you a mom thinking of going back to school (or already in school)? What’s your biggest challenge?
Related mom and student articles
How to Stay Focused in College (As a mom and Student)
Time Management for Moms in College: How to Balance it All
9 Productivity Tips for Student Moms Who Want Success